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Who's Who in Medieval History and the Renaissance

King Harold II of England

c. 1020-1066

Military Leaders


Great Britain

The son of the powerful Anglo-Saxon Earl Godwin of Wessex, Harold Godwinson (also Godwineson) was a strong political and military leader in his own right. The Godwins were in frequent opposition to the francophile king, Edward the Confessor, whom Harold served as chief minister for more than 12 years. Edward allegedly named William of Normandy as his heir in 1051; however, on his deathbed, the old king evidently chose Harold to succeed him. Godwinson wasted no time in getting the Witenagemot to confirm his kingship and took the throne the day after Edward's death. He was to be the last Anglo-Saxon king of England.

Harold's reign was short and turbulent. He prepared for an invasion by William, but was sidetracked by an attack by Harald Hardrada, the King of Norway, who was allied with Harold's brother Tostig. After defeating the invaders at Stamford Bridge, Harold took his army south to meet William and, after a long and fierce battle, died at Hastings along with two of his brothers.

Important Dates

Crowned: Jan. 6, 1066
Died: Oct. 14, 1066

Dynastic Table

Medieval & Renaissance Monarchs of England
Use this table to see the progression of Kings and Queens from Egbert of Wessex in the ninth century to Elizabeth I in the sixteenth. Hyperlinks lead to entries in Who's Who.

From Your Guide

This four-part examination of the events leading up to the Norman Conquest, the invasion itself, and its aftermath includes background on the various claimants to the throne.

The Quest for Conquest
25 questions about the Norman Conquest. Miss one and you have to start over -- but finish the quiz and get your name posted in our list of Conquerors.

On the Web

King Harold
This extensive, heavily-hyperlinked biography at Spartacus includes an image from the Bayeux Tapestry.

Harold II (1066 AD)
Concise, informative biography at Britannia Internet Magazine.

Harold Godwinson
A heavily-hyperlinked biography at Wikipedia.

In Print

Harold II in Print

Related Resources

Norman Conquest
An index of sites offering background on events leading to the invasion, the invasion itself, its aftermath, and the people involved.

Dark-Age Britain
A directory of sites that examine Britain during late antiquity, or the "dark ages," from Sub-Roman cultures to the end of Anglo-Saxon England.



Who's Who Directories

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Chronological Index

Index by Profession, Achievement,or Role in Society

Geographical Index


Who's Who in Medieval History is copyright © 2000-2014 Melissa Snell. All rights reserved.




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